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New Vehicles Leave Drivers With Limited Visibility

Craig McClellan

While new vehicles come packed with safety equipment intended to help drivers and passengers survive a collision, at least one area of safety is being sacrificed. New vehicles are increasingly being designed with larger blind spots and limited visibility. Federal crash standards and pressure to improve fuel economy may be driving automakers to sacrifice the driver's ability get an unobstructed view from behind the wheel. Shrinking the amount of glass in the vehicle might help those inside survive an accident, but it is unlikely to help them avoid collisions with pedestrians and other vehicles.

Many SUVs and crossover vehicles are now being equipped with rear-facing cameras to allow drivers to get an unobstructed view when driving in reverse. Without these cameras, getting out of the garage can be a harrowing experience. Unfortunately, consumers may not realize the seriousness of this limitation until after they have purchased the vehicle and driven it for awhile.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is attempting to mandate the inclusion of backup cameras on new vehicles. Automakers have been reluctant to go along and often offer such cameras only as expensive optional extras or as standard equipment in luxury models. Rearview cameras may alleviate the problem to some extent, but they are dependent on a driver's willingness and ability to incorporate the technology properly into everyday driving.

Choosing a new vehicle is not a simple decision. Issues of cost, reliability, fuel efficiency, safety and other factors must be weighed to make the best decision. If you are considering buying a new vehicle, do not forget the importance of visibility in safe driving. Check to see if you are comfortable with your view when backing up, changing lanes or waiting at a stop light. Visibility could be the difference between colliding with another vehicle and avoiding a crash.